#ChangeLawyer Meet the lawyer and single mom who is poised to become the first Native American congresswoman
After winning the Democratic primary for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district on Tuesday night, Deb Haaland is on track to become the first Native American woman ever to serve in Congress.
Haaland is a lawyer and a single mother who worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, and has been a vocal advocate for abortion rights and universal health care. She has also endorsed the elimination of ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“We must be welcoming to those who flee their country because of violence and abject poverty in hopes of a better future -- that’s who we are as Americans,” she said.
New Mexico’s 1st congressional district is solidly blue, meaning there’s a high likelihood Haaland will secure the seat in November, against the uncontested GOP candidate Janice Arnold-Jones.
As HuffPost points out, Haaland’s election would be a historic one, given that, of the “more than 10,000 people have served in the House and nearly 1,300 have served in the Senate since the first Congress met in 1789” not a single one has been a Native woman. (“Crazy, right?” Haaland told them.”)
Story by The Cut >
More of This This city’s entire criminal justice system is run by Black women
“Let black woman lead” is the mantra, and it looks as if one city in Georgia has taken it to heart.
South Fulton, the fifth-largest city in Georgia, has every aspect of its criminal-justice system run by African-American women, and unsurprisingly, its approach to criminal justice is among the most progressive in the nation.
Six of the women run the most important law enforcement positions in the city:
“Our goal is to ensure justice for everyone,” said Sellers, who appointed Cofield court administrator. “However, as African-American women we are sensitive to the history of criminal justice in our country. We want to be an example of how to do things right.”
“One of the primary purposes of laws is to protect citizens and the city,” Jones, who runs Second Chance, explained. “You can do that without sending everyone to jail or enforce high fees. Most people do better when they know better.”
In South Fulton, all defendants are offered appointed counsel before making a decision about their case.
“Having an opportunity to advise clients ensures justice is received by all,” says Famber Powell.
Come November, if Stacey Abrams wins the governorship, we might all have to pack up and hit the Peach State—at least for vacation.
Story by the Root >
Less of This It took lawyers 20 years to argue that victims of domestic violence deserve asylum. It took Jeff Sessions no time to turn his back on them.
When it comes to immigration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not been reluctant to assert the powers of his office. With his decision, announced Monday, to virtually eliminate domestic violence as grounds for asylum, he summarily swept away more than two decades of hard-fought legal cases and painstaking decisions by immigration judges and appeals courts that favored women who were victims.
The attorney general steered resolutely against the tide of the #MeToo movement, in which American women have come forward to reveal sexual violence and abuse as hidden systemic realities in many areas of life.
Instead, Sessions focused on narrowing the avenues available to migrant women who were battered or sexually assaulted, by finding that domestic violence in most countries is a common crime committed “for personal reasons” that could almost never meet the legal definition of persecution to support an asylum claim.
There was no hint in the original Refugee Act of 1980 that people escaping domestic violence might be covered. But after an epic 13-year battle, in 2009 lawyers from the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of Law won an important early case in which an immigration judge granted asylum to a Guatemalan woman, Rody Alvarado, who had been brutalized.
A pivotal decision came from the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2014, in another contested case involving a Guatemalan woman whose husband, among other things, broke her nose, raped her and tried to burn her alive. The police did nothing to stop him.
Under President Obama, lawyers for the government agreed that the woman’s suffering — and Guatemala’s systemic indifference — rose to the level of persecution.
Advocates were appalled. “Sessions is trying to toss us back into the Dark Ages,” said Karen Musalo, a law professor at Hastings who represented women in two of the most influential cases. “These aren’t just private criminal acts when you have a society that marginalizes women and allows femicide and severe violations of women’s rights with impunity.”
In a statement, fifteen former judges called it “an affront to the rule of law.” They said they were “deeply disappointed that our country will no longer offer legal protection to women seeking refuge from terrible forms of domestic violence from which their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them.”
Story by the Marshall Project >
Speaking of… Chaos in courthouses as immigrants are denied due process
It was just before 3 p.m. on a recent Tuesday and Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major of the Southern District of California had been waiting all afternoon to arraign 37 people arrested for illegally entering the country.
But the defendants never appeared in the San Diego courthouse that day. While processing them, the Bureau of Prisons’ computer system crashed nationwide, leaving U.S. marshals unable to transport people to court.
Quickly, federal public defenders filed writs of habeas corpus, which compel the government to produce defendants when they are scheduled to be in court. By Wednesday morning, prosecutors dropped the charges against 32 people charged with misdemeanors, after defense attorneys moved to dismiss the charges based on the delay.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the change in April, many wondered whether federal courts would be able to handle the thousands of new prosecutions without infringing on legal and due process rights. The answer, public defenders argue, is now clear. They say that some of their clients are detained in far-away facilities, are often not allowed to adequately consult with defense attorneys before appearing in court, and are being coerced into accepting plea deals just to get out of jail.
“It’s profoundly depressing to see people treated this way,” said Jami Ferrara, a former trial attorney with Federal Defenders, which provides defense at first appearance to anyone arrested in the district without a private attorney.
“The district is in complete disarray,” Ferrara told The Appeal. Lawyers have heavy caseloads, files are often incomplete, and the courts are sometimes open late into the evening.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times revealed that prosecutors plan to use an expedited prosecution program, known as “Operation Streamline,” to try to charge as many border crossers as possible. Under the program, which has already been instituted in Arizona and Texas, dozens of immigrants can be arraigned, convicted, and sentenced in minutes.
For years, the judges in the Southern District of California have resisted efforts by federal prosecutors to institute “Operation Streamline” in the district. The judiciary, its justices argued, should not conform to the whims of the executive branch of the government.
As the number of immigrants held in federal criminal custody increases, the U.S. Marshal Service has had to find new places to hold immigrants, which often means sending them hundreds of miles away from their lawyers.
On May 31, immigrants detained at Otay Mesa released letters detailing their abuse in the facility. “When we ask for medical attention, they do not treat us, and many of us have pains, wounds, and the officers don’t pay attention to us and ignore us,” the letter reads.
Ferrara, the head of the Criminal Justice Act Panel, is unconvinced that this new policy will do anything to deter immigrants from attempting to enter the United States, particularly because many have deep ties to the country already.
“I saw a young man today who was pleading to a 1325 [illegal entry] and getting sentenced, who has grown up here in the United States; he has two United States citizen children who live here,” Ferrara told The Appeal. “He does not have the infrastructure or support in Mexico to set up a new life there, and everyone he knows and loves is here in the United States. That’s someone who it is going to be hard to picture them just giving up and not trying to come back and see their family. I don’t know where this exercise is going to take us, but it isn’t taking us in a humane direction.”
Story by the Appeal >
Less of This Too Louisiana keeps locking kids up for life
The Supreme Court may have declared life without parole, or LWOP, unconstitutional for juveniles, but Louisiana continues the practice of sentencing children to die in prison.
In its 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles (or teenagers who were younger than 18) constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
The Louisiana legislature amended its laws to comply with Montgomery. The initial bill would have prohibited LWOP for all juveniles, including those convicted of first-degree murder. But under pressure from the state’s district attorney association, the version that passed prohibits future LWOP sentences for juveniles who are convicted of second-degree murder.
“What this shows is the incredible role of prosecutors in shaping the legislation,” John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School and author of Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform, told The Appeal.
“It seems like we’re on a carousel repeating the mistakes of the past,” Jill Pasquarella, supervising attorney of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights Campaign to End Extreme Sentencing for Youth, told The Appeal. “The post-Miller data tells us this pattern is likely to persist. Even with instructions from the Supreme Court, kids [convicted of murder] were still sentenced to LWOP at a rate of 62 percent. That’s a far cry from ‘rare’ and ‘uncommon.’”
“Race plays a role in the same way that it plays out throughout the criminal justice system,” reflected Pasquarella. African-Americans comprise slightly less than one-third (or 32 percent) of Louisiana’s overall population but they comprise 74 percent of the people sentenced to life without parole. The children’s rights center found that African-Americans comprise 75 percent of Montgomery-eligible cases in which the state is seeking a new life without parole sentence.
“Even with the Miller and Montgomery opinions, we put very few restrictions on what district attorneys can do,” said Pfaff, the Fordham law professor. “They retain tremendous discretion to be punitive and we see that in their embrace of juvenile life without parole.”
Story by the Appeal >
Read this Thread
The following Twitter thread was written by Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of Council on American Islamic Relations- Bay Area. California ChangeLawyers awarded CAIR a fellowship grant in response to the increased threats faced by Muslim communities in California.
Event MCB Mixer @ Everett & Jones
Join MBC organizations for our annual summer mixer on July 12, 2018 at Everett & Jones for delicious BBQ, lots of appetizers, and drinks
Free admission for members of co-sponsoring organizations.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Sign up here>
Free Clinic FEMA Clinic hosted by Legal Aid of Sonoma County
The FEMA process is incredibly important and many survivors rely on FEMA assistance for recovery. Please help us help the community by sharing, posting, tweeting, or whatever else you can think of to spread the word.
144 South E Street in Santa Rosa
June 23, 2018.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Job Opportunity UCSD hiring Title IX Complaint Resolution Officer
The Complaint Resolution Officer assumes major responsibility for responding to complaints of harassment and discrimination, exercising independent judgment in the intake, informal resolution, and formal investigation of complaints and in establishing strategies for the resolution of identified problems.
Job Opportunity Latinx policy & research one year fellowship
California ChangeLawyers is partnering with the Network for Justice and Southwestern Law School to provide a one-year fellowship to a recent Southwestern law graduate committed to engaging in policy work and research focused on supporting Latinx civil rights. This position is based out of Los Angeles.
To apply, please send your resume, names of three references, 1-2 page writing sample, and a one-page cover letter to Bianca Sierra Wolff at email@example.com with the subject line “Network for Justice Fellow”.